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easyJet scraps Berlin flights due to de-icer shortage

Hundreds trapped in cars as snowstorm hits Estonia
Tallinn (AFP) Dec 10, 2010 - Emergency services in Estonia urged residents in the Baltic state's north to stay at home Friday after heavy snowfalls which left hundreds trapped in their vehicles. "Very difficult weather conditions are preventing the clearing of snow from roads," Reimo Raja, a spokesman for the Estonian rescue board, told the Baltic News Service. "Snow clearance on the main roads is complicated and secondary roads in Harju county and in Viru counties are not drivable right now," he said. Harju county includes the Estonian capital Tallinn, while the two Viru counties lie to the city's east, on the main highway to Russia.

Raja said that several hundred people were stranded on the highway, with cars, buses and trucks stuck in the snow. He warned that it could several hours to reach all snow-hit vehicles, and urged people to stay at home so as not to swell the jams. Much of Tallinn's ring-road was closed, with stranded trucks blocking traffic, while public transport in the city was still running, albeit with major delays. The Baltic nation of 1.3 million people is used to hard winters, but even it has been caught out by the scale of the snow. A sharp storm overnight brought some 20 centimetres (eight inches) of snow. Raja also said that in view of potential power outages residents should keep their mobile phones fully charged and have a candle or a flashlight at hand.
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) Dec 10, 2010
British budget airline easyJet scrapped all flights leaving from a snow-covered Berlin on Friday morning because of what it called a "serious" shortage of de-icer to make its aircraft safe to fly.

On Thursday, some 200 flights operated by all airlines were scrapped at Berlin's two main international airports, about one third of those scheduled, a spokesman said, partly for the same reason.

Air Berlin, Germany's second-biggest airline after Lufthansa, said that there had been shortages in recent days, but that the situation had returned to normal on Friday.

"We think it is a structural problem. There are only a few firms in Europe (who make de-icer), leading to shortages across Europe, which could become a problem this winter," a spokeswoman told AFP.

Swiss chemicals firm Clariant, a major supplier of de-icer, said that heavy snow so far this winter had created "high demand all over Europe" and that production was running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Everyone had quite high demand but Berlin had very high demand," said company spokeswoman Stefanie Nehlsen, adding that the situation was expected to ease there swiftly.

"We have several trucks ready to unload in Berlin," she told AFP.

Particularly wet snow was also adding to the demand, with an aircraft requiring 10 times as much de-icer -- around 1,000 litres (265 gallons) -- than dry snow, she added.

GlobeGround, which de-ices planes at the German capital's two main airports Tegel and Schoenefeld, said that manufacturers were experiencing "drastic" problems not only in delivering to airports but also in production.

"GlobeGround's de-icer stocks have fallen dramatically. There are currently nine orders for Tegel and Schoenefeld that have not been made, many of them were supposed to have come two days ago," it said.

Frankfurt airport, Europe's third busiest, was not experiencing any shortages, however, and traffic was slowly getting back to normal after recent delays, with around 40 cancellations on Friday, a spokesman told AFP.

Heavy snow has also caused major delays on Germany's roads and railways in recent days, and fresh snow was falling in southern regions on Friday.


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